Duvar English

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is facing dwindling numbers as its membership has dropped by 15,692 within a period of 50 days, said daily Birgün on Feb. 9, citing official figures released by the Court of Cassation.

The membership of the party slid to 10,195,904 as of Feb. 4, from 10,211,596 on Dec. 16, 2019.

The AKP’s ally Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), on the other hand, increased its membership by 10,614 within the same period, reaching 479,199.

Rise in opposition membership

As for the opposition parties, the İYİ (Good) Party membership increased by 42,533 to 266,440; the main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) by 4,230 to 1,257,753; and the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) by 412 to 39,334.

As of the beginning of January, former prime minister Ahmet Davutoğlu’s breakaway Future Party started to accept membership from citizens, but the party’s members have not yet been registered in the system.

Meanwhile, the number of members of the New Welfare Party (“Yeniden Refah Partisi”) – founded by former prime minister Necmettin Erbakan’s son Fatih Erbakan in November 2018 – has increased to 57,175.

The AKP saw last year its two founding members leave the party, which is said to contribute to the gradual decline in the membership figures.

Former deputy prime minister Ali Babacan resigned from the AKP last year over “deep differences” and has been continuing efforts to establish a new political party. Davutoğlu, once President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s closest ally, also resigned from the AKP in 2019, saying it had lost the ability to solve the country’s problems. In December, he set up his new Future Party.

While a series of former lawmakers have joined Davutoğlu in resigning, the AKP’s representation in parliament has remained steady with 290 MPs in the 600-seat assembly.

However, official data shows the huge membership of the party slid to 10.19 million by early February of this year, from 10.72 million in August of 2018.

In a speech to party officials in September of last year, Erdoğan played down the decline, saying that the fall was mostly due to deaths of existing members.

But some commentators say the sliding membership reflects an underlying decline in support.